"The team has really been struggling," Thad Reece told The Daily Press. "It's not like we've been getting blown out or anything. We've been losing some close games. There's a difference between playing bad and just losing. Tonight was well-needed for us."
It was a good game for Reece, it was also a game in his final season as a professional player. His career ended that year after 10 seasons, never having made the majors.
Reece's career was one that showed flashes of promise. He was taken by the Athletics in the 17th round of the 1981 draft out of the University of Hawaii.
He spent his first year at single-A San Jose, hitting .259. He'd stay in single-A through 1983, hitting .275 at Modesto and then .295 at Madison.
But it was the jump to AA Albany that marked a high point. Reece won the Eastern League batting crown that year with an average of .331, 14 points better than the second place league member, future major leaguer Wally Joyner, according to The Schenectady Gazette.
Reece's average had been as high as .352 in late July, after a game that saw him go 3 for 4 against Nashua. He hit .500 during one week in June, going 13 for 26 and earning Player of the Week honors.
He made AAA Tacoma in 1985, where he would stay through 1987, without a call-up. A move to the Royals system for 1988 saw Reece back at AA, hitting .261.
Then it was on to Italy. Reece spent 1989 in Europe, part of his experience recorded by Sports Illustrated. Reece was announced in one game as "nuovo Americano," the magazine wrote. He and other players went to Italy because, while not paying a lot, the move paid better than the minor leagues.
Back stateside for 1990, Reece spent his final year as a player back at AAA, with the Omaha Royals. In 64 games, he hit just .232 and he was done.
Reece went on to stay in baseball, as a high school coach for his hometown Porterville High in California. He spent 10 years coaching the team, returning the team to championship form before being let go in 2007.
“I don’t know what the future holds or what opportunities are out there,” Reece told The Porterville Recorder. “But I have a lot of contacts with collegiate and professional coaches. I always keep that door open.”
- Sports Illustrated, Oct. 9, 1989: A Former Major Leaguer Savors Italian Baseball
- Hampton Roads Daily Press, June 10, 1990: Zuvella's 5 Hits Pace Omaha Past Tides 12-1
- Porterville Recorder, Aug. 10, 2007: After 10 years, Panthers replace Reece
Cards Reviewed: 212/880 - 24.1%
Players/Coaches Reviewed: 217
Made the Majors: 148 - 68%
Never Made the Majors: 69 - 32%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 65
10+ Seasons in the Minors: 69